Surrounded by enormous stone walls, Much more relaxed and 'rustic'
than the larger cities we've been to, Xi'an made me feel immediately
comfortable. I knew my way around pretty quickly and enjoyed the sort
of market feel that the streets had. This is the most produce I've
seen sofar. Amazing mushrooms, peaches everywhere, herbs and giant
green onions. Butchers in the street with the hunks of meat just
laying out on the tables. Beautiful parks and friendly faces. The
framework of the city worked like a grid between the huge stone walls
that have apparently been there since 62 AD. Much of the city's
architecture seemed to be old. Old and slightly forgotten.
Walking around the empty canals and abandoned temples I got the sense
that there must have been a much brighter life here many years ago
before things like water pollution and technology became our reality.
We did find one temple which was still up and running and we listened
to some ceremonies and watched as people prayed and burned incense.
Id've taken more pictures but felt it wasn't something that was meant
to be photographed. To get in to the temple everyone had to pay an
entrance fee. It was small but it still made me sad that some people
who have been a part of this religion for many many years now have to
pay to pray. Incense floated through the air and everyone was quiet.
It was a nice refuge from the loud and boisterous streets. Leaving
the temple grounds, we had to wade through crowds of disfigured and
emaciated beggars. Some of them wheeling on boards, not able to walk
or stand. There seems to be a great disparity between classes here.
The lowest of which have been quite frightening to see. Nothing like I
have ever seen before. Not in person. These dark realities of this
trip have made me realize how lucky I am. And how glad I am to be
living in Canada.
This became apparent in a funny way on our last night. After a day
adventuring to the terracotta warrior site, we rented bikes from our
hostel and took of in search of 'Big Goose Pagoda'
We got lost. We weaved between the traffic. The traffic. The traffic
is insane here. Nothing like biking in the sleepy lake side town of
Hangzhou at the beginning of our trip. These drivers are crazy and in
numbers ! There is a bike lane but most people are just walking all
across it in crowds. We had to ding our bells furiously. As we got
further into the congested main roads the traffic started to clog up.
All at once a huge bus pulled off the main road and careened infront
of us and used the bike path! Then ! Further along as even the bike
lane got clogged with traffic a cab drove up, past the bike lane and
started driving on the sidewalk. I watched in amazement and laughed
out loud to myself imagining how hard we think we have it with
'cyclist rights' in Toronto.
We managed to find the Pagoda and saw some pretty water fountain show
and then biked home. What an accomplishment. Did I mention the left
pedal of my bike kept falling off? I had to stop every ten minutes to
reattach it.
Whew china. What a wacky wonderful place.
Day train to Yichang today. Heading there to see the three gorges dam.

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